A Year to Remember: women’s basketball heads to Final 4

UCC women’s basketball wrapped up their 2017-18 regular season in a familiar fashion, taking on Clark Community College at home on Saturday, March 3. UCC bullied their way past Clark by a final score of 96-57. The victory marked the Hawk’s 28th win this season, with the team hungry for more as they prepared for their next challenge, the 2018 NWAC Basketball Tournament.

After last year’s tough finish, Coach Dave Stricklin was ready; “I am excited [for the tournament]; this is a special group, and the past two years have been great,” Stricklin said.

Coach Stricklin and his team wrapped up the season tied for the league’s most wins at 28, and although they fell short of perfection, dropping their last road game of the season to Lane in a close contest of 79-86, perhaps the loss came at a good time to help the team prepare for the NWAC Tournament.

Coach Stricklin utilized the rare loss as a teaching moment for his team. “The South is extremely strong, and there are good teams, and they are all well coached. I really deep down inside didn’t think we were going to go through the entire region without a loss, and I’m hoping it prepares us. It’s kind of a reminder of how our season ended last year, and I’m hoping it was a wake-up call that will get us back on track,” Stricklin said before the tournament.

While the loss was tough for the team, it came in the form of welcomed adversity in a season that otherwise was a success for the ‘Hawks. UCC has been nothing less than dominant this season, their strength showing up in far more than just their win-loss total. As a team, RiverHawks women’s basketball led their league in points per game (87.4), assists per game (23.4), and rebounds per game (52.7).

Through the entire 2017-2018 regular season, the ‘Hawks marched through their schedule outshooting opposing teams with their league high 49.7 field goal percentage, while holding their opponents to a league low 31.5 field goal percentage.

These are numbers that have indeed put the rest of the league on notice. “What a team, 29-1, unbelievable. Dave Stricklin is Mr. 800, this guy has won 800 games as a coach, and 500 have come with the RiverHawks. It’s pretty amazing what he’s done,” said Kirc Roland, athletic director at Lower Columbia Community College.

“Jordan Stotler is going to Portland State; she is a great player who can do it all, a box score stuffer,” Roland says. As the RiverHawk’s center, Stotler has dominated night in and night out, leading the league in blocks per game (4) and second in the league in rebounds per game (11.5), earning her two Under Armour Player of the Week awards this year. Stotler wasn’t alone; Bria Thames also claimed her own player of the week award, finishing the year averaging 17 points per contest shooting off of the league’s third best field goal percentage (59.4%). Dajanay Powell also enjoyed a strong year, coming off of the bench to average nearly 18 points a game off of a league best 66 field goal percentage.

“This is a team that may be a number one or two favorite to win this whole tournament; I mean no weakness. With [Dajanay] Powell (shown below), and Bria Thames (shown above)– a loaded team,” said Roland.

Dajanay Powell looks to score on offense.

UCC claimed the number one seed in the South and matched up against the number four seed Peninsula Pirates to kick off this year’s NWAC Tournament. The game was played at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington on Thursday March 8. UCC was able to advance into the Elite 8, defeating the Pirates by a score of 83-62.

Jordan Stotler and Dajanay Powell carried the load on offense, combining to score 47 points of the UCC’s 83 points. After getting off to a quick start, UCC controlled the first half by a 21-point margin. UCC was able to add onto their lead in the third quarter before allowing Peninsula to make a push in the fourth quarter, outscoring the RiverHawks by 12 points. Ultimately there was not enough time for Penisula to come back, and the RiverHawks were able to hold onto a 21-point victory over the Pirates. With the win, UCC moved onto the Elite 8 where they faced off against number two seed Columbia Basin Hawks.

On Friday, March 9, UCC handily defeated the Columbia Basin Hawks 93-66. These two teams had yet to meet in the current season prior to Friday’s game, and both were ranked in the league’s top five in defense. UCC ranked number one in defense this season, holding opponents to an average 59.5 points per game. Columbia Basin also enjoyed a strong season on the defensive side of the ball holding opponents to the league’s third lowest points per game at 59.9. Despite Columbia Basin’s solid defense, UCC center Dajanay Powell had a career game, only missing two shots on her way to scoring 46 points. Combined with her 16 rebounds, Powell earned a double-double helping the RiverHawks advance to the Final Four.

The Final 4 and Championship games will take place from March 17 to 18 with tickets sold at the door, $17.00 for an adult day pass. All games will be broadcasted online at NWAC Sports Network. For more information and accommodation discounts, visit the NWAC Basketball Championship home page.

http://www.nwacsports.org/basketball/championship/index.php